Accenture on Service Innovation

One of the themes at Emergence this year centered around exploring the difference between service design and management consulting. It’s clear that differences in process aren’t a sustainable competitive advantage. Last year’s RED paper on Transformation Design observed:

Design consultancies may well be winning pitches against management consultancies, but already the top management consultancies are employing techniques core to design practice: visualising, prototyping, and experiencing things from the user’s viewpoint.

That’s a little disconcerting. But rather than escalating a process arms race, maybe it’s worth stepping back and exploring distinctions between our core values. Service designers approach problems with an inherent respect for human-centered rather than system- or technology-centered frameworks. That seems at odds with a recent publication from Accenture. Empowering Service Innovation for High Performance [PDF 932K]. It’s a nicely designed brochure, but it describes an approach antithetical to human-centered service design principles:

Our top-down approach to defining a solution blueprint for the Accenture Service Delivery Platform Solution considers the business needs first and uses that knowledge along with our industry experience and tested methodologies to define general concepts and then develop a detailed design.

They spend a full page extolling the merits of a “top-down” perspective. I can’t imagine a service design company doing the same thing. It’s a polar opposite world-view.

To be fair, this is only one data point from one consultancy. But it’s a thread that’s worth exploring.

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